Meta Quest v51 brings a major OS update, local dimming, and more
The Quest v51 update is out for early-access users, based on Android 12L, and expands local dimming support in Quest Pro, and more.
Meta announced a few days ago that all new Quest apps will be required to work with Android 12L. This change takes effect on June 30, 2023, implying that the Android 10 underpinnings of the Quest OS would soon be updated. This will improve the Quest 2 and Quest Pro headsets in numerous ways.
Now that the Quest v51 has been released for Public Test Channel (PTC) users, it's clear that Meta will make that change soon. Basti shared news of the PTC v51 update on Twitter.
v51 just released for the Meta Oculus Quest and it finally updated from Android 10 to 12 🥳
— basti 🦈🌳 (@Basti564) March 27, 2023
v51 has additional updates, including expanded access to local dimming, an advanced feature of the Quest Pro that improves the display's dynamic range.
What is Android 12L?
The original Quest VR headset ran an OS based on Android 7. The Quest 2 and Quest Pro use Android 10. Meanwhile, your phone is on Android 13. It's important to move to a newer OS to stay current with security updates, increase compatibility with online services, and make use of updated hardware.
OS updates take advantage of newer hardware. Android 10 launched in 2019 before Qualcomm's Snapdragon XR2 Gen 1 was available. Android 12L ( released last year) can take full advantage of the hardware capabilities of the chip that powers the Quest 2 and Quest Pro (Snapdragon XR2+ Gen 1).
Meta made no mention of performance gains in its developer post, and the release notes for v51 aren't available yet, so it's too early to know how big of an impact this will have. Additional features and speed gains might become apparent in the next few months as new Quest games and apps begin targeting Android 12L.
Why is there such a long delay between updates? Meta uses that time to significantly customize the OS for use on a VR headset, something Google didn't envision for its mobile operating system.
Google designed Android 12L for larger screens, specifically tablets. Since the Quest uses a tablet view, it might be easier for Meta to maintain and update the Quest OS. Hopefully, some of Android 12L's multitasking and notification features will also be brought to the Quest platform.
More v51 updates
Multiple v51 PTC users on Reddit have reported local dimming works in PCVR over Quest Link and AirLink. This premium feature of the Quest Pro enables darker blacks by using an array of miniLEDs for backlighting. Part of the display can be at maximum brightness, while another area can be very dark.
Another Reddit post mentioned a new ability to, "stream/record video and audio over usb or WiFi," AVIF image compression (more efficient than JPEG), and wireless debugging are reportedly supported as well.
Android 12L will have multiple small improvements and set the stage for the changes coming with the Quest 3 headset that will launch this fall. The Quest 2 will continue to be supported for a while, but the Quest 1 will not get the v51 update.